Published: Jun 16, 2013 8:22 AM EDT
Updated: Jun 16, 2013 9:03 AM EDT

FORT MYERS, Fl. - Several local organizations came together to celebrate Father's Day a little early and encourage dads in the community to be involved in their children's lives. 

It was all a part of President Obama's nationwide fatherhood and mentoring initiative.

"It means everything to me being a father and being there for the kids," says Halsey Watkins.

Watkins is a father of 8 and no stranger to big families.  He grew up with four siblings and with parents who were there every step of the way.  He says because his dad is strong a positive role model, he wants to do the same.

"A lot of this crime stimulates from a lot of the kids feeling left alone and the streets are being there for them... even if you're out there and your father wasn't there for you, bridge that gap.  Make a difference," he adds.

It was the theme of this Father's Day celebration at Clemente Park.  It was organized by the city housing authority, the Boys and Girls club and the Black History Society.  Organizers say say they want to support and encourage those men who are present in their family's lives.

"Statistics show that one out of 3 families, children go to bed without a father so today is about bringing our fathers together," says Twaski Jackson with the Housing Authority of Fort Myers.
"Being a mom and a dad to my daughter, it's hard but you have to do what you have to do... to those men that are fathers and are in their kids lives, I encourage them all the way," says Jatavia Lee.

All to hopefully give these kids a chance at a successful future.

"Every child needs a firm foundation and that really starts with those positive adult role models... we're raising compassionate and competent adult citizens," says Shannon Lane with the Boys and Girls Club of Lee County.

To take the Fatherhood Pledge: